In 2012, Dafydd wrote The Boy Who Went Fishing For Compliments, a script for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s annual puppet show.


Vivian is a little boy with a lot to deal with: the hospital, for one thing, with its ominous Wheeler-Dealers and Night Tigers, which lie in wait for him behind the door. But when Vivian’s heart decides to leave him and flies through the skylight, life suddenly becomes a lot more complicated. Before long he finds himself clutching a net at the edge of the unknown universe, fishing for compliments in order to get back home.


Every year, the design department offers a unique experience to its students to study over an 11-week period as a designer, puppet maker and puppeteer performer, in a site-specific puppetry performance. This show is designed for school audiences and adults, often as a spectacular promenade performance through historical sites around Cardiff. The Boy Who Went Fishing For Compliments was performed around the newly renovated college – which has now become one of Cardiff’s most iconic buildings – as well as at the Barge House on the Southbank, London.


Dafydd’s Original Programme Notes

Puppets, like students, are a gift for writers. Puppets can fly far easier than humans and so too can the writer’s imagination when working with them. Students, I have usually found, also soar higher than most other grown-ups in their boundless energy and creative imaginings. Puppets and students both inspire and challenge, so I always knew that I (and Vivian, of course) would be in good company. We haven’t been disappointed.


Puppets can do so many things: they can sing, dance, laugh, be torn apart, bleed, puke and fart. Of course, us humans can do those things as well but if we did them all it wouldn’t be very good for us; and we would make an awful mess. Sorry, I digress. But that’s OK, that’s how I wrote the play. I started with Vivian in a hospital bed and then I digressed. Everywhere. Up, down and somewhere in between. In fact, I couldn’t stop digressing and the more I digressed the closer I got to saying what I wanted to say.


Sometimes teachers will tell you not to digress. Sometimes they are right. But often they are not. Next time they tell you off, tell them: I’m not digressing, I’m being creative. But don’t blame me if you get told off, blame Vivian. He won’t mind. He’s been to the edge of the unknown universe and back, so he can deal with anything.


Artwork by Bettina Reeves and Cadi Lane.